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Bartenders Name The Best Scotch Whiskies For Fans Of Honey And Heather

If you’re a Scotch whisky drinker, you know that the flavors can be dramatically different, depending on the region producing the juice. Islay is known for its peated, smoky, briny flavors. Speyside is more famous for sweeter, honeyed notes. But both often feature heather — the bogland flowering bush that dominates the moors of Scotland, especially in the Highlands.

The mauve flowers of this bush produce a distinctly Scottish aroma that melds with malts and builds peat, creating an earthy, grassy, and slightly floral aroma and taste in the whisky. It’s very Scotland-specific to the point that Islay beers are brewed with heather flowers instead of hop flowers.

To find the best single malt and blended scotches with hints of heather complimenting predominant flavors of honey and/ or briny smoke, we decided to turn to the pros. We asked a handful of our favorite bartenders to tell us the best whiskies for fans of floral heather flavors. Check them all out below and click on the prices to give these bottles a shot at home.

Aberfeldy 12

Aberfeldy

Marcio Ramos, partner, and mixologist at The Honey Well in New York City

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $40

Why This Bottle?

Aberfeldy is the epitome of honey and heather in a bottle. I love this stuff and I don’t think you get a better bang for your buck at least for a 12 year. With a creamy nose, floral brightness, and a proper dollop of honey, we have a winner.

I make my old fashioneds with a 1:1 honey syrup, Angostura bitters, and expressed orange peel. It’s a big flex and I recommend you try one at home.

The Singleton 12 Glendullan

The Singleton

Adam Fournier, bar director at The Fellow in Los Angeles

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $42

Why This Bottle?

If you’re looking for a delightful mouthfeel with heather flavors look no further than The Singleton Single Malt. I’m personally a fan of the Singleton 12 Year Glen Ord which is green and grassy. But the Singleton 12 Year Glendullan has a richer sherry finish that has a softer mouthfeel that blends honey and heather. Either way, there’s an amazing range in the Singleton.

Monkey Shoulder

Monkey Shoulder

Will Benedetto of Benedetto Hospitality Consulting in New York City

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $32

Why This Bottle?

I’m a big fan of Monkey Shoulder. It’s a very approachable scotch. It features a beautifully fragrant bouquet of dried citrusy heather, sweet raw honey, and black tea bitterness that makes it great for mixing or sipping on the rocks.

Old Pulteney 12

Old Pulteney

Craig Schoettler, executive director of beverage and corporate mixologist for MGM Resorts in Las Vegas

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $45

Why This Bottle?

Old Pulteney 12 years is aged in ex-bourbon barrels. It’s a bit softer than some of the Highlands sherry cask finished expressions. There’s a maritime breeze over the heather florals, adding a bit of salinity thanks to being located in the northerly most shores of Scotland in Caithness.

Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or

Glenmorangie

David Wheelahan, bartender at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $75

Why This Bottle?

By itself, my favorite of the sweet heather-influenced scotches is Glenmorangie’s Nectar D’Or. The Sauternes cask finish gives it an unmatched elegance among the single malts with a clear sense of floral honey helping all those malts shine in the glass.

Chivas Regal 12

Chivas

Andy Shannon, bartender and co-founder of Candra in London

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $26

Why This Bottle?

Chivas Regal 12 would be my recommendation for fans of soft, heather-flavored whiskies. Heather comes through on the nose followed by pear and honey on the palate. Simply mix it with lots and lots of ice and sparkling water to make a delicious highball. It’s a winner.

The Glenlivet 12

The Glenlivet

Jeff Rogers, bar director of Jester Concepts in Minneapolis

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $39.99

Why This Bottle?

The Highlands, and more specifically Speyside, are home to so many beautiful scotches. The flora really shines in these expressions. The Glenlivet 12 is amazingly subtle and approachable. The heather really shines with the softness of the honeyed malted grain offering a nice balance.

Compass Box Artist Blend

Compass Box

Mark Phelan, beverage director at 16” on Center in Chicago

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $40

Why This Bottle?

Compass Box is known for its transparency and willingness to challenge the conventional framework of scotch to find new flavors. Their Artist Blend is soft and layered with flavors from floral to honey to mildly peated, so there’s something for everyone hidden in each sip.

Try it in a highball or Penicillin and reap the rewards.

Highland Park 18

Highland Park

Brenna Gay, bartender at Bradford House in Oklahoma City

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $150

Why This Bottle?

My go-to for a delicate but battle-worthy scotch is Highland Park 18. Notes of heather, springtime peat, cherry, honey, and oak delight the casual whisky sipper and can be enjoyed in the summer heat. I would even venture to say it doesn’t need a mixer, just a big ice cube alongside a sunset or special occasion.

Glenmorangie The Original 10

Glenmorangie

Robert Kidd, head bartender at Le Cavalier in Wilmington, Delaware

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $35

Why This Bottle?

Personally, I like Glenmorangie. This scotch has some lovely honey tones up front that lead into some great floral notes and leaves the pallet with a touch of oak and caramel. It makes for a great summer flavor profile. If I had to pick one, it would be the Original 10-year expression.

Glenfarclas 10

Glenfarclas

Chris Amirault, bartender and co-owner of PARMBOYZ in Los Angeles

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $50

Why This Bottle?

Anything from Speyside is going to be “softer” because a majority of it is sherry finished. If I had to pick just one bottle known for its soft honey, floral heather, and vanilla flavor, I’d go with Glenfarclas 10.

The Balvenie Doublewood 12

The Balvenie

Sebastien Derbomez, manager of brand advocacy at William Grant & Sons

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $65

Why This Bottle?

The Balvenie is characterized by honey and distinct heather flavor and is one of my favorite Speyside single malts. This complex and rich whisky is matured in two different types of oak cask. Also, the Balvenie distillery still grows and malts its own barley while having coopers and coppersmith on-site to make their own barrels, so check out their full range.


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